It is still unknown for sure whether there was a worldwide flood described in the Bible and the myths of Mesopotamia. However, modern scientists are increasingly concerned about the possibility of a natural disaster repeat, if the climate in the Arctic changes.
Climatologists have used the latest HadGEM3 climate model and developed a plausible scenario for the complete melting of Arctic sea ice, which occurred 130 thousand years ago, during the so-called Mikulin interglacial. Now scientists believe that the situation may repeat itself in 15 years. According to their calculations, sea ice may melt by 2035, which will entail irreversible changes in the Arctic ecosystem.
Of course, such global metamorphoses will affect the existence of coastal cities. According to Climate Central, Amsterdam, Basra, New Orleans, Venice, Ho Chi Minh City and Calcutta will be directly affected. All these cities may be completely or partially submerged by the end of this decade. The current dams will not be able to prevent this. In addition, residents of even semi-flooded cities will be in constant danger due to regular floods.
Some Russian cities are also at risk. According to experts of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, permafrost can thaw by 3-4 meters by 2100. Since half of the territory of the Russian Federation is located in the cryosphere zone, Vorkuta, Salekhard, Chita, Ulan-Ude and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky will feel the consequences first of all. Later, Yakutsk, Magadan and Igarka will share their fate. This was stated by the employee of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, Alexey Ekaykin in an interview with RIA Novosti.
According to the head of the laboratory, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Vyacheslav Zakharov, thin permafrost layers in Western Siberia will first melt, which will cause flooding of all Yamal cities, including Labytnangi, Novy Urengoy and the already mentioned Salekhard. In total, eight regions of Russia with all settlements fall into the flood zone — the Yamalo-Nenets District, the Arkhangelsk and Murmansk Regions, the Komi and Yakutia Republics, as well as the Krasnoyarsk Territory.
South Korea, meanwhile, has come up with an extraordinary idea, which will act as a solution to this global issue. More than two years ago, a group of builders, engineers and architects gathered at the same table at the United Nations to discuss an ambitious concept: the creation of a floating city capable of withstanding natural disasters, including floods, tsunamis and Category 5 hurricanes.
The idea was not entirely new: designers and developers had been fantasizing for decades about building artificial islands and megacities on the water. Even Homer imagined a mythical floating city about 13 centuries ago, but these visions, as we know, were difficult to implement - often because local authorities did not agree with the proposals, citing concerns that the embankment could be used better.
The UN-backed project overcame this obstacle on Thursday when the city of Busan in South Korea agreed to host a floating city on its shores, which will be created in collaboration with the Oceanix designer and the UN Human Settlements Program, also known as UN-Habitat. Like many coastal cities, Busan is threatened by rising sea levels.
"Busan just so happens to be the best place for us to deploy this prototype," Itai Madamomba, Oceanix co-founder, informed Business Insider. "But we hope that it will be useful for all coastal cities of the world and all coastal communities that are facing the problem of sea-level rise."
The construction of the flood-protected city could be completed by 2025. Oceanix Floating City is, in fact, a set of hexagonal platforms located on the water. Hexagons are considered one of the most effective architectural forms: they allow builders to save both space and materials. Imagine an ordered interior of a hive-in fact, a web of connected hexagons. The platforms of the city will be reinforced with a limestone coating, two to three times harder than concrete, but at the same time remaining buoyant. The material is created by exposing underwater minerals to electric currents. Under the influence of current, it eventually becomes stronger and can be restored, allowing it to withstand severe weather conditions.
The aim of the project is to build a flood-proof city that rises above the sea and provides itself with its own food, energy and freshwater. Cages under the platforms can be used to contain scallops, algae and other types of seafood. And aquaponic systems can use fish waste to fertilize plants. However, the design is not set in stone - and Oceanix has not yet determined the size of the city. Madamomba said that her team will collaborate with local designers in South Korea to adapt the prototype to local conditions. According to her, Oceanix plans to announce the results of these efforts at the second UN meeting in April.
Then the team will start designing the platforms and obtaining a construction permit. The cost, which in likelihood will increase depending on the final design and materials, is estimated at about $200 million. "In total, it will take three years," Madamomba said. "Therefore, we expect that by 2025 we will see a prototype of a city on the water." Busan is vulnerable to flooding due to typhoons. It is a city of 3.4 million people and has one of the busiest ports in the world, so local builders and engineers have extensive experience in building on water, Madamomba said.
This project will serve as a model for future floating cities around the world. Both hurricanes and deluges are becoming more frequent and intense as global temperatures rise. A recent climate study by the Central Non-Profit Research Group found that in the worst-case scenario - 4 degrees Celsius of warming - and at least 50 major cities will lose most of their population over the next 200 to 2000 years due to sea-level rise. And coastal cities such as Busan are particularly vulnerable. Although the waters around Busan are mostly calm, the city has also been hit hard by typhoons over the past decade, including Typhoon Chaba, which flooded the city in 2016, and Typhoon Kong-rei, which caused Busan to lose electricity in 2018. Madamomba said that UN-Habitat will collect data on the development of the Busan project. Her team hopes to apply the experience gained in their next projects: Oceanix is in talks with at least 10 other governments to build more floating cities, by the words of the co-founder of Oceanix.
President of Business Committee of Asia Pacific Region